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Zorra Township set to pilot 4-day work week

Starting in September, Zorra Township will be piloting a four-day work week in an effort to increase hours of operation.

Staff will work a compressed week in an effort to stay open longer hours each day

One survey found that of those businesses who have already adopted a four-day working week, nearly two-thirds have reported improvements in staff productivity. (Indypendenz/Shutterstock)

Starting in September, Zorra Township will be piloting a four-day work week in an effort to increase hours of operation.

The township, located just east of London, which serves a community of about 8,400 people, came up with the idea in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when the township split their senior management workforce into alternating teams in an effort to reduce the chance of a potential outbreak.

"That really triggered us to say: there are different ways to work," Zorra Mayor Marcus Ryan said on CBC's Afternoon Drive. 

"We thought, is there an opportunity to look at working in a different way and delivering services to our residents in a more effective and more efficient way? So it kind of opened out eyes." 

The four-day work week will be carried out on a voluntary basis during an eight month trial starting in September.

Ryan said the shift in how the township works will not result in an increase cost to residents as the office will have the same number of staff who will be working the same number of hours for the same pay.

The key difference is that employees will have a compressed work week, meaning they'll work for more hours on the four days they are scheduled.

The workforce will be split into two groups, both which will be working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but one group will work Monday to Thursday, while the other will work Tuesday to Friday.  

Ryan said despite the smaller number of staff on certain days, there will not be a decrease in township services offered to residents.  

"In order to address that a given employee may not be in on a Monday or a Friday there will have to be cross training, so there will alway be someone that can help residents with any given service." 

Mayor Marcus Ryan said despite the smaller number of staff on certain days, there will not be a decrease in municipal services offered to residents.   (Submitted)

Staff at the township are feeling optimistic about the four-day work week, Ryan said.  

"Frankly, for a lot of staff, it could mean three-day weekends, it could mean the opportunity to have a Monday or a Friday to do doctor appointments and for parents with school-aged children there's an opportunity to do things with their kids."

Additionally, Ryan said the new model will hopefully be a win for residents too as the office will be open for longer hours each day. 

Once the trial begins, officials will be looking for residents to give them feedback on how beneficial the model has been to them. They'll also have township staff monitoring the success of the project. 

"Zorra as a municipality has traditionally been innovative and open minded and prepared to try things and they don't always work, but that's why were doing a trial," Ryan said. 

"If it works, we keep doing it and if it doesn't work, then we wont do it." 

With files from Afternoon Drive

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